While the fans of the Bundesliga club clearly do not expect the Argentine to sign, all money donated will go to a good cause
Messi believes that he is out of contract with the Primera Division side and eligible to depart on a free transfer this summer, but La Liga has ruled in favour of his club, meaning any team that wants to sign him is likely to have to stump up his release clause of €700 million (£627m/$835m).
The Stuttgart supporters are apparently unperturbed by such an eye-wating amount of money and have set their sights on raising €900m (£805m/$1bn), presumably to finance the superstar wages that come with such a name.
In order to generate the finances required for a deal to take place, the fans of the side that finished third bottom of the Bundesliga last season – and avoided relegation only because of their success in a play-off – are holding an unlikely whip round.
A statement on the GoFundMe page states: “We VfB fans are collecting money to pay for Lionel Messi’s transfer. In the event that the planned amount is not reached on time or Lionel Messi joins another club, 100% of the money raised will be donated to Viva con Agua.”
Formed in St Pauli, Via Con Agua “is a non-profit organisation committed to ensuring that all people worldwide have access to clean drinking water”.
Manchester City, meanwhile, are leading the way in the race to sign Messi, while Paris Saint-Germain and Inter are also credited with a close interest in the player. All three clubs benefit from wealthy owners and are not having to rely on crowdfunding to generate their finances.
Stuttgart, whose star players include Orel Mangala, Nicolas Gonzalez and Silas Wamangituka, have thus far been bringing in far more modest signings this summer than Messi.
They will begin their Bundesliga campaign against Freiburg on Saturday, September 19.